Marking 20 Years and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Thoughts from our New CCEL Director
June 15, 2023
BY Kelly Melnyk
I am excited to be writing my first blog as the new Director of CCEL. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the CCEL and I have long admired the work that CCEL has both created and contributed to. I’m grateful for the excellent accomplishments of my predecessors Krista James and Laura Tamblyn-Watts and for their work to build this Centre. I look forward to contributing to this important body of work.
While in law school, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I watched my mom take on the role of adult caregiver from afar. Seeing the need for accessible legal support, I began focusing much of my outreach and legal education on questions of capacity, guardianship, and consent. I have been fortunate to practice elder law and teach a course on this vital area at Thompson Rivers University, Faculty of Law. Much of my method to teaching law students is to instill a passion in them for this growing area of practice.
For me, learning of the CCEL and its work was vital to my work and interest. Ensuring that our laws protect vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation while at the same time respecting their rights to decisional autonomy and personal freedom is a key priority for me. It is with this in mind that I acknowledge that today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Over the last 20 years, the work of the CCEL has factored elder abuse into many of our projects, such as Oversight of the Work of Health Care Assistants in BC, Vulnerable Investor Protective Action and Legal Safe Harbour Project, and Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Knowledge Sharing Project.
One project in particular, though, was released in April 2022 and is an essential resource for those seeking information on and help for elder abuse across the country – the Practical Guide to Elder Abuse and Neglect Law in Canada. It is my hope that anyone needing assistance in preventing, spotting, or protecting from elder abuse, accesses this Guide as it is essential information that everyone should have.
Thank you to the team at BCLI and CCEL for welcoming me so warmly. Thank you to my predecessors for an amazing 20 years of work to build from. I cannot wait to see what we can do next.